Performance athletes look after their bodies – their teeth included. In a study of 352 male and female athletes from 11 sports, including cycling, swimming, rugby, football and athletics, it was found that 94% of them brushed their teeth twice a day (compared with 75% of the general population), and 44% floss regularly (compared with 21% of the population).
However, in spite of all this attentiveness, researchers at UCL discovered that these athletes still had pretty bad teeth. 49% of them had untreated tooth decay and 32% said that tooth pain negatively affected their training and performance.
The conclusion drawn by the paper, published in the British Dental Journal, was that these athletes consume so many high-sugar energy foods and drinks: 87% regularly drank sports drinks, while 59% ate energy bars and 70% used energy gels.
However, other studies have suggested a different reason for poor dental health in sportspeople. The harder the training regime, the less saliva you produce – and saliva have an important role in degrading bacteria, strengthening enamel, diluting sugars and neutralising acid production.